In the last discourse of Jesus before he was arrested and betrayed, Jesus tells the disciples (and us) that he leaves them peace. Peace is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew word shalom. Shalom is a common greeting and farewell, which is used similarly to our English hello and goodbye. Shalom, however, is more than just a simple hello or goodbye – it is a greeting that expresses hope.
Peace for the Greeks was simply an absence of war. For the Hebrew, however, it represented a divine tranquility arising from reconciliation with God and a sense of divine favor. The peace that people shared with one another was no more than a hopeful statement – something wished upon a person. What Jesus gives is so much more.
Jesus is offering true and lasting peace to those who choose to follow him. It’s not a peace that the world can give – because that is fleeting and dependent on circumstances. Instead, the Lord of Peace gives his followers a peace that can keep us from being troubled in times of difficulty. It is a lasting peace, contentment, and even joy, that is only found through a relationship with Christ.
Jesus gives us this peace and says that with this peace, our hearts should not be troubled, and we should not be afraid. The word trouble means to stir up water in a pool or disturb one’s emotions with trepidation. The word afraid means cowardly fear; a similar word is used of the disciples during the storm in Matthew 8:26.
In the end, Jesus is offering something that the world could never provide: true, complete peace for the believer. When you’re feeling trepidation or fear, remember that we worship and serve the Lord of Peace – a peace that God grants us eternally when we choose to follow Christ.